Earthquake near Asheville, N.C., felt in North Georgia
A late-night earthquake centered near Asheville, N.C., shook homes in North Georgia on Wednesday night, but appeared to have caused no damage locally.
The 3.8-magnitude quake, which hit at 11:09 p.m., was centered about two miles southeast of Hot Springs, N.C., about 25 miles north of Asheville, according to the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center.
The temblor shook houses in Athens and in the mountains of northeast Georgia.
"I was already in bed, but my wife was still up, and she came in and said the kitchen was vibrating," said Aaron Stanley, a deputy with the Union County Sheriff's Office in Blairsville.
"She said the dishes were rattling around."
Officials with the U.S. Geological Survey said the earthquake was also felt in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.
The USGS received 10 reports of the quake from Gwinnett County, eight from Fulton County and three from Cobb County.
No damage was reported in Georgia.
Seismic activity in the part of North Carolina where Wednesday's quake was centered has been "rare," according to Tim Long, a professor of earth and atmospheric science at Georgia Tech.
"Earthquakes of that magnitude occur about every five to 10 years, but usually, they're over toward Knoxville, northwest Georgia and northeast Alabama," Long said.
"This one was right in the middle of the mountains.
"It's not an area where we've had many earthquakes recently," he said. "In the late 1800s and early 1900s, there were a number of earthquakes in that area of western North Carolina. That area apparently had quieted down, and this is a change."
Long said there are no recognized faults in that area of North Carolina.
He said residents of western North Carolina can expect aftershocks from Wednesday night's quake.
"All earthquakes have aftershocks," Long said. "It's just a question of how many and when. For an earthquake of this size, I would expect in the next two weeks for there to be a number in the magnitude 2, 2 1/2 to 3 range."
Long said he doubts any of the aftershocks would be felt as far away as metro Atlanta. "They probably wouldn't be felt out of that [North Carolina] area," he said.
The last significant quake to be felt in metro Atlanta — an April 29, 2003, earthquake that measured 4.9 in magnitude and was centered near Fort Payne, Ala. — was about 10 times stronger than Wednesday night's temblor.
The Associated Press contributed to this article